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LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2012-.

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LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet].

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Moxifloxacin

Last Update: March 10, 2020.

OVERVIEW

Introduction

Moxifloxacin is a fourth generation fluoroquinolone with expanded activity against gram-positive bacteria as well as atypical pathogens. Moxifloxacin has been linked to mild ALT elevations during therapy and to rare instances of idiosyncratic acute liver injury with symptoms and jaundice.

Background

Moxifloxacin (mox" i flox' a sin) is a fourth generation fluoroquinolone with expanded activity against gram-positive bacteria including multidrug resistant strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Like other fluoroquinolones, moxifloxacin is active against a wide range of aerobic gram-positive and gram-negative organisms. The quinolones are believed to act by inhibition of bacterial DNA gyrase and topoisomerase IV that are required for synthesis of bacterial mRNAs (transcription) and DNA replication. In contrast, DNA gyrases are not present in human [and other eukarotic] cells and the equivalent topoisomerases are not sensitive to fluoroquinolone inhibition. Moxifloxacin was approved for use in the United States in 1999 and is available generically and under the commercial names of Avelox, Moxeza and Vigamox. Current indications include mild-to-moderate bacterial infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, community acquired pneumonia, skin infections, cellulitis, abscesses and complicated intraabdominal infections due to sensitive organisms. Moxifloxacin is also commonly used as a second line agent for therapy of tuberculosis and atypical mycobacterial infections. Moxifloxacin is available in formulations of 400 mg tablets, the usual dose being 400 mg daily for 5 to 14 days. Intravenous formulations are available for moderate to severe infections, the usual IV dosages being 400 mg daily. Common side effects include gastrointestinal upset, headaches, skin rash and allergic reactions. Less common but more severe side effects of the fluoroquinolones include prolongation of the QT interval, seizures, hallucinations, tendon rupture, severe hypersensitivity syndromes, angioedema, photosensitivity and Stevens Johnson syndrome.

Hepatotoxicity

Moxifloxacin, like other fluoroquinolones, is associated with a low rate (1% to 3%) of serum enzyme elevations during therapy. These abnormalities are generally mild, asymptomatic and transient, resolving even with continuation of therapy. Moxifloxacin has been linked to rare but occasionally severe and even fatal cases of acute liver injury. The time to onset is typically short (1 day to 3 weeks) and the presentation is often abrupt with nausea, fatigue, abdominal pain and jaundice. The pattern of serum enzyme elevations can be either hepatocellular or cholestatic, cases with the shorter times to onset usually being more hepatocellular. In addition, the onset of illness may occur a few days after the medication is stopped. Many (but not all) cases have prominent allergic manifestations with fever and rash, and the liver injury may occur in the context of a generalized hypersensitivity reaction (Case 1). Autoantibodies are usually not present. Cases with a cholestatic pattern of enzymes may run a prolonged course but are usually self-limiting, although at least one case of chronic cholestasis and vanishing bile duct syndrome leading to liver failure has been published. Most reported cases have been mild with recovery within 4 to 8 weeks of onset.

Likelihood score: B (rare but likely cause of clinically apparent liver injury).

Mechanism of Injury

The cause of hepatic injury is unknown but is likely to be immune-mediated as many cases occur in the context of a system hypersensitivity reaction. Moxifloxacin is metabolized by sulfate or glucuronide conjugation and has no effect on cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Outcome and Management

Mild-to-moderate hepatic injury due to moxifloxacin should be followed by full recovery within 4 to 8 weeks. Fulminant cases and chronic cholestatic forms with vanishing bile duct syndrome have been described. Cross reactivity of the hepatic injury between different fluoroquinolones has not been demonstrated, but is suspected based upon the similarity of clinical patterns of injury and latency. Thus, patients who develop clinically apparent liver injury from moxifloxacin should be advised to avoid further exposure to other fluoroquinolones.

Drug Class: Antiinfective Agents

Other Drugs in the Subclass, Fluoroquinolones: Ciprofloxacin, Delafloxacin, Gemifloxacin, Levofloxacin, Norfloxacin, Ofloxacin

CASE REPORT

Case 1. Severe hypersensitivity reaction and hepatitis due to moxifloxacin therapy.(1)

A previously healthy 45 year old man was treated with moxifloxacin for suspected sinusitis and developed severe rash, facial edema and fever one week later. He was admitted with the diagnosis of Stevens Johnson syndrome and was treated with systemic and topical corticosteroids. He had a past medical history of allergic reactions of amoxicillin and erythromycin, but had not received fluoroquinolone antibiotics in the past. He had no history of liver disease, alcohol abuse or risk factors for viral hepatitis. He was taking ranitidine and an antihistamine but denied taking over-the-counter or herbal preparations. On admission, serum aminotransferase values were markedly elevated (~18 fold) and the day after he became jaundiced (Table). There was no eosinophilia or lymphocytosis. Tests for hepatitis A, B and C were negative as were autoantibodies. An abdominal ultrasound was normal except for somewhat echogenic texture of the liver suggesting fatty infiltration. He was treated with methylprednisolone and his skin rash and jaundice improved over three weeks. Ultimately, liver tests returned to normal values.

Key Points

Medication:Moxifloxacin, 400 mg daily
Pattern:Hepatocellular (R=11.4)
Severity:3+ (jaundice and hospitalization)
Latency:10 days
Recovery:Approximately 3 weeks
Other medications:Antihistamines, ranitidine

Laboratory Values

Days After
Starting
Days After
Stopping
ALT
(U/L)
Alk P
(U/L)
Bilirubin
(mg/dL)
Comments
10012261881.1Generalized rash with desquamation
11113113053.0
1229753263.5
1339793493.6
14411893733.5
15512203793.3
16613003783.3
17711393302.6
18811673512.9
1997292292.0
2616223930.8
312153740.7
Normal Values<41<115<1.2

Comment

This patient developed symptoms of generalized hypersensitivity approximately 9 days after starting moxifloxacin. He had an accompanying hepatitis and jaundice that was not severe. Some degree of hepatic involvement is common with severe hypersensitivity reactions to antibiotics, but usually the allergic manifestations dominate the clinical picture. Notice that the liver injury worsened for a week after stopping the implicated medication before beginning to resolve. The patient should be advised strongly to avoid further exposure to fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

REPRESENTATIVE TRADE NAMES

Moxifloxacin – Generic, Avelox®

DRUG CLASS

Antiinfective Agents

COMPLETE LABELING

Product labeling at DailyMed, National Library of Medicine, NIH

CHEMICAL FORMULA AND STRUCTURE

DRUGCAS REGISTRY NOMOLECULAR FORMULASTRUCTURE
Moxifloxacin HCl186826-86-8C21-H24-F-N3-O4.Cl-Himage 135058355 in the ncbi pubchem database

CITED REFERENCE

1.
Orman ES, Conjeevaram HS, Vuppalanchi R, Freston JW, Rochon J, Kleiner DE, Hayashi PH., DILIN Research Group. Clinical and histopathologic features of fluoroquinolone-induced liver injury. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011;9:517–23.e3. [PMC free article: PMC3718017] [PubMed: 21356330]

ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

References updated: 10 March 2020

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    (Among 679 cases of drug induced liver injury presenting between 2004 and 2010 at 8 US medical centers, 12 [1.8%] were attributed to fluoroquinolones including 6 cipro-, 4 moxi-, 1 levo-, and 1 gatifloxacin; the average time to onset was 4 days [range 1-39], with both hepatocellular and cholestatic enzyme patterns, seven with rash or fever, mortality was limited to those with hepatocellular injury and jaundice; hepatic injury was class specific; moxifloxacin cases included 3 men, 1 woman, ages 45-71 years, onset after 1-7 days, 1 with fever and 2 with rash [bilirubin 0.9-5.3 mg/dL, ALT 220-1311 U/L, Alk P 253-837 U/L], one patient developed vanishing bile duct syndrome and underwent liver transplantation: Case 1).
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    (Among 363 patients with drug induced liver injury who underwent liver biopsy, 26 [7%] had bile duct loss of whom 94% developed evidence of chronic liver injury suggestive of vanishing bile duct syndrome, 2 of which were due to fluoroquinolones, 1 to moxifloxacin and 1 levofloxacin).
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  • Comparison table: some systemic fluoroquinolones. Med Lett Drugs Ther. 2018;60:e57–e58. [PubMed: 29635268]
    (Table comparing 4 fluoroquinolones [cipro-, levo-, dela- and moxifloxacin] mentions that ALT and AST elevations are a class adverse event).
  • File TM, Goldberg L, Das A, Sweeney C, Saviski J, Gelone SP, Seltzer E, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Intravenous-to-oral Lefamulin, a Pleuromutilin Antibiotic, for the Treatment of Community-acquired Bacterial Pneumonia: The Phase III Lefamulin Evaluation Against Pneumonia (LEAP 1) Trial. Clin Infect Dis. 2019;69:1856–67. [PMC free article: PMC6853694] [PubMed: 30722059]
    (Among 551 adults with community acquired pneumonia treated with intravenous lefamulin [150 mg every 12 hrs] or moxifloxacin [400 mg every 24 hrs] with option to switch to oral forms for 5-11 days, response rates were similar [87% vs 90%] as were adverse events overall [both 38%] and ALT elevations [1.8% vs 2.2%], and there were no hepatic related discontinuations or severe adverse events).
  • Alexander E, Goldberg L, Das AF, Moran GJ, Sandrock C, Gasink LB, Spera P, et al. Oral lefamulin vs moxifloxacin for early clinical response among adults with community-acquired bacterial pneumonia: the LEAP 2 randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2019;322:1661–71. [PMC free article: PMC6865224] [PubMed: 31560372]
    (Among 738 adults with community acquired pneumonia treated with oral lefamulin [600 mg twice daily] or moxifloxacin [400 mg once daily] for 5 days, early clinical response rates were identical [91%], while gastrointestinal adverse events were more frequent with lefamulin including diarrhea [12% vs 1%] and nausea [5% vs 2%], but not ALT or AST elevations [0.5-0.8% vs 1.1%]).
  • Mavros MN, Theochari NA, Kyriakidou M, Economopoulos KP, Sava JA, Falagas ME. Fluoroquinolone based versus β-lactam-based regimens for complicated intra-abdominal infections: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2019;53:746–54. [PubMed: 30639629]
    (Systematic review of controlled trials of fluoroquinolones versus β-lactam-based antibiotic regimens found similar rates of efficacy and adverse events, no discussion of ALT elevations or liver related toxicities).
  • Kuula LSM, Viljemaa KM, Backman JT, Blom M. Fluoroquinolone-related adverse events resulting in health service use and costs: A systematic review. PLoS One. 2019;14:e0216029. [PMC free article: PMC6485715] [PubMed: 31026286]
    (Systematic review of observational studies on safety of fluoroquinolones concluded that due to lack of published literature, health service and costs could not be evaluated).
  • Nunn AJ, Phillips PPJ, Meredith SK, Chiang CY, Conradie F, Dalai D, van Deun A, et al. STREAM Study Collaborators. A Trial of a Shorter Regimen for Rifampin-Resistant Tuberculosis. N Engl J Med. 2019;380:1201–13. [PubMed: 30865791]
    (Among 424 patients with rifampin-resistant tuberculosis treated with a short course regimen [9-11 months] including high dose moxifloxacin or a longer course regimen [20 months] of standard therapy, response rates were similar [79% vs 80%] as were adverse event rates, but hepatobiliary disorders were more frequent with the moxifloxacin-containing courses [8.9% vs 5.7] including ALT elevations of more than 5 times ULN [6.6% vs 1.7%]).
  • Tweed CD, Dawson R, Burger DA, Conradie A, Crook AM, Mendel CM, Conradie F, et al. Bedaquiline, moxifloxacin, pretomanid, and pyrazinamide during the first 8 weeks of treatment of patients with drug-susceptible or drug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis: a multicentre, open-label, partially randomised, phase 2b trial. Lancet Respir Med. 2019;7:1048–58. [PMC free article: PMC7641992] [PubMed: 31732485]
    (Among 240 patients with pulmonary tuberculosis treated with 1 of 3 regimens for 56 days, liver enzyme elevations were the most frequent adverse event with ALT or AST elevations above 5 times ULN in 5-10% of patients in the 3 regimens and resulted in drug withdrawal in 10 patients, but there were no deaths attributable to therapy).
  • Velayutham B, Jawahar MS, Nair D, Navaneethapandian P, Ponnuraja C, Chandrasekaran K, Narayan Sivaramakrishnan G, et al. 4-month moxifloxacin containing regimens in the treatment of patients with sputum-positive pulmonary tuberculosis in South India - a randomised clinical trial. Trop Med Int Health. 2020 Jan 14; [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed: 31944502]
    (Among 1371 patients with pulmonary tuberculosis treated with 3 or 4 month moxifloxacin based regimens vs standard 6 month regimen, moderate-to-severe hepatic adverse events occurred in 2.2% receiving moxifloxacin and 1.2% on standard therapy).

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